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road sage

Ask any scientist, doctor, philosopher, cleric, social worker, psychiatrist, teacher, health professional, early childhood development professional, nutritionist, physiotherapist, social scientist, sociologist, community worker, urban planner, kinesiologist, economist, traffic cop, coroner or cognitive psychologist and they’ll tell you, “As a society, we need more screen time.”

That’s why it is such a relief to learn that in Britain, the Highway Code has been adjusted to make it legal for the “drivers” of self-driving cars to watch television on built-in screens. Don’t worry. Drivers must remain ready “to resume control in response to a transition demand in a timely manner.” In other words, drivers must be ready to drive.

The U.K. Department of Transport declared the changes will allow “drivers to view information of any sort on the inbuilt apparatus of their vehicle, provided their vehicle is driving itself and has been listed as an automated vehicle under the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018.” Self-driving cars are not currently allowed on U.K. roads. They are expected to be in use later this year. Hand-held cellphone use is still prohibited.

That’s one small screen for man, one giant screen for mankind.

It’s not just drivers who will benefit. Imagine the adrenalin rush back seat passengers will get from watching the crime thriller television series Reacher on BMW’s i7 sedan’s gigantic “31-inch theatre screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV and 8K resolution.” It will be just like watching Reacher on a 31-inch screen at home but with the added excitement of being in a moving vehicle without access to a toilet. This will be a fantastic improvement on the current situation in which those wishing to watch Reacher must wait until they are no longer in a motor vehicle to do so.

It’s comforting to know governments and transport ministries approve of drivers watching television in self-driving cars. Otherwise, countless millions would suffer moments of screenlessness. Can you imagine spending a day at work looking at a screen and then not being able to get into an automobile and continue looking at a screen? The non-looking-at-a-screen period between looking at a screen at work and getting home to look at a screen would be agony. What are drivers supposed to do? Drive?

The U.K.’s official blessing of drivers watching TV while driving, one that will be repeated over and over globally, demonstrates there is nothing in heaven or on Earth that cannot be improved by the addition of a screen. It also highlights the glaring lack of government funding being spent on medical research into ways people can have small screens embedded in their foreheads.

Having trouble getting your mind around the concept of TV and self-driving cars? It’s simple…

Self-driving cars are a lot like prison. In prison…

  • Cellphone use is prohibited
  • People are secured in small steel cages or cells
  • Watching television is prized
  • Guards monitor your every move
  • Little time is spent outdoors

Prison guards monitor inmates by watching them on screens and in person. In a self-driving car, the “driver’s” every move can be recorded and monitored by a host of privately owned companies and/or governmental organizations. Guards know where prisoners are. Insurance companies and auto makers will know where drivers are. It’s a win/win. They know where you are at all times, and you know that they know where you are at all times. And as long as you’re not doing anything wrong, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

The biggest difference between prison and a self-driving car is that no one ever paid $147,000 to go to prison.

Some old-fashioned stick-in-the-muds might be skeptical about self-driving technology. They might question the wisdom of relinquishing the control of an automobile to a soulless machine. They might argue that no technological revolution comes without its downside. The first flight by a “heavier than air” flying machine in 1907 was greeted with justified jubilation. Airplanes could be used to transport people and the mail. Flight would transform society in myriad ways. It did. Eight years later airplanes were dropping bombs on the Western Front.

Ultimately, self-driving automobiles will change not only the way we drive, but the way we live. Will people start voluntarily living in cars? Why not? Why pay $1,800 a month for a bachelor apartment when you can own a car close to the same size, decked out with screens? Get yourself a gym membership and you’re set. Self-driving vehicles may spy on us and treat us as inconvenient flesh bags, but the roads will be safer.

And we’ll be able to watch built-in screens. What more could a person want?

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